On May 30, 2017, the department of Public Instruction (department) received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the Madison Metropolitan School District (district). This is the department’s decision regarding the complaint. The issues are whether the district, during the 2016-17 school year:
- properly conducted a reevaluation of a student with a disability;
- properly provided the parent of a student with a disability meaningful opportunity to participate in the development of the individualized education program (IEP);
- properly provided the parent a copy of the student’s IEP prior to its implementation; and
- properly implemented the IEP.
On September 23, 2016, the district provided a notice to the parent seeking consent to conduct additional assessments as part of a reevaluation. On October 7, 2016, the district notified the parent of its intent to conduct a three-year reevaluation of the student. The student’s IEP team met on October 19, 2016, to review existing data as part of the reevaluation process. The student has been identified as a student with a disability since 2010, initially meeting the criteria for significant developmental delay, then the criteria for emotional behavioral disability (EBD) on reevaluation in 2013. Following this meeting the parent provided consent to conduct the additional assessments identified in the September 23, 2016, notice. Additional assessments were conducted by district staff in the areas of social emotional, self-regulation, and social/functional behavior. On November 30, 2016, the IEP team met to determine the student’s continuing eligibility for special education. After reviewing the prior evaluations, current assessment results, and information provided by the parents, the IEP team concluded the student met the criteria for other health impairment. The team ruled out emotional behavioral disability as the evidence did not indicate the student’s behaviors were chronic, severe, or frequent across school home and/or community. The team identified the student’s needs which could not be met in regular education as organizing/prioritizing and executive functioning, and academic acquisition especially in core academic subjects. The parent objected to the team’s conclusion the student did not meet EBD criteria as she felt the team had ignored the student’s past history of increasing behavioral difficulty as school years progressed and instead had based its determination on his current, relatively successful, classroom performance.
When a district proposes to reevaluate a student, the district must provide the parent notice of the reevaluation before it starts any reevaluation activities. Once the district provides the parent the required notice it must proceed to a review of existing data for the purpose of determining whether additional assessments are necessary, and if so, what type of assessments will be administered. The student’s parent must be included in the review of the existing data. Only after the review of existing data has occurred and the required determination made, may the district notify the parent and request the parent’s consent to conduct assessments. As part of a reevaluation, a student must be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability. An evaluation must be sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the student’s special education and related services needs. In using multiple sources of information, considering criteria for several impairment areas, and identifying the student’s disability related needs based on the student’s current performance rather than category of impairment, the district, as a substantive matter, properly conducted a reevaluation of the student. As a procedural matter, the district failed to properly conduct the reevaluation of the student by seeking consent to conduct additional assessments before the parent was notified of the reevaluation and before the review of existing data had occurred. As corrective action the district shall submit to the department within 30 days a corrective action plan to ensure staff at the student’s school are aware of the proper order of steps in conducting and documenting evaluations and reevaluations.
The student’s IEP team met December 19, 2016, to develop the student’s annual IEP. The district established a mutually agreed on time for the IEP team meeting, provided the parent notice of the meeting, and the parent participated in the meeting. At the meeting the IEP team documented the concerns and observations of the parent regarding the student and the student’s IEP. At the conclusion of the meeting the parent raised concerns that the student’s annual goals were not finalized and other issues remained outstanding. District staff did not offer the parent the opportunity to continue the IEP team meeting. When the parent eventually received a copy of the December IEP the parent contacted the district and again raised concerns about the student’s annual goals and other matters. In response, the district scheduled an IEP team meeting on January 20, 2017, and provided the parent notice of the meeting. The parent attended the meeting. The student’s IEP was not completed at the January meeting and the team continued its work on March 8, 2017. Again the district scheduled the meeting at a mutually agreed on time, provided the parent notice of the meeting, and the parent attended the meeting. The IEP team documented the parent’s concerns expressed at both the January and March IEP team meetings.
A district must take steps to ensure one or both of the parents of a child are present at an IEP team meeting or are afforded the opportunity to participate. The district must notify the parents of the meeting early enough to ensure they have an opportunity to attend and must schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed on time and place. If the child’s parents are not able to attend, the district must use other methods to ensure parent participation. The district must provide additional time if the parents of the student or the district staff determines at any meeting during the process of the evaluation, development of the IEP, or placement of the student that additional time is needed to permit their meaningful participation. In ending the December IEP team meeting despite the parent’s concerns that the student’s annual goals had not been finalized and by not offering the parent additional time, the district denied the parent a meaningful opportunity to participate in the development of the student’s IEP. However, since the IEP team has had several meetings since then and discussed the parent’s concerns, no student specific corrective action is needed. As corrective action, the district shall submit to the department within 30 days a corrective action plan to ensure staff at the student’s school understand the obligation to make additional time available to ensure meaningful parent participation.
The placement notice developed by the IEP team at the December IEP team meeting identified December 21, 2016, as the implementation date for the IEP. The parent was not provided a copy of the IEP at the conclusion of the IEP team meeting. Subsequently, the parent received an electronic mail from the district containing an attachment which she was unable to open, and which she presumed to be the IEP. The parent had not received IEPs in the past via electronic mail and did not consent to the use of electronic mail on this occasion. On January 7, 2017, the parent found a copy of the IEP in the student’s backpack.
A parent must be provided a copy of a student’s IEP prior to the implementation of the IEP. A district may provide a copy of the IEP to the parent via electronic mail if the parent has consented to receive the IEP in that manner. Sending an IEP home with a student is not an acceptable method to provide parents with the required copy. The district did not properly provide the parent a copy of the IEP prior to its implementation. As corrective action, the district shall within 30 days submit a corrective action plan to the department to ensure staff at the student’s school understand the requirement to appropriately provide the parent a copy of the student’s IEP prior to its implementation.
The student’s IEP specified specialized instruction in math for 20 minutes five times per week in the special education environment. The specialized instruction was to be provided at the same time as the student’s general education peers’ afternoon math lesson. Documentation created by district staff indicate the student did not receive the math instruction as specified on six Mondays concurrent with early release days. The district did not appropriately implement the student’s IEP. As corrective action, the district shall within 30 days, hold an IEP team meeting to determine whether any additional services are necessary to address the missed math instruction.
All noncompliance identified above must be corrected as soon as possible, but in no case more than one year from the date of this decision. This concludes our review of this complaint.